Hungerford and Wealdstone share the spoils at Bulpit Lane
The Crusaders 'put a shift in' to earn their first point of the season
For the second consecutive game Harvey Bradbury clinically dispatched a penalty into the bottom corner but this time is was to earn Hungerford a deserved point against a strong Wealdstone side.
Wealdstone, featuring a management team and several former Crusaders returning to Bulpit Lane, started strongly and had the lion's share of the first half. The visitors created several good early chances whilst the Hungerford forward line struggled to make in-roads towards the Wealdstone goal. Jokull Andresson, one of seven home debutants for the Crusaders, made a couple of outstanding saves to keep the Wealdstone strikers at bay before David Pratt bundled the ball in on 28 minutes to give them the lead. A second goal for Wealdstone looked likely before the break but to their credit the Crusaders regained their composure and defended well to stay firmly in the game, despite losing the unfortunate Romone Rose to injury.
Hungerford were much better coming down the hill in the second half and began to push the Wealdstone defenders deeper and deeper towards their own goal. The visitors still threatened with the long ball out of defence and there was the odd scare for the hosts as Pratt in particular continued to look dangerous. The Crusaders were beginning to win their personal battles however and deservedly drew level on 73 minutes when a superb run down the right wing by Conor Lynch was ended by a trip from former Crusader Rhys Tyler and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. After a lengthy delay, largely caused by the Wealdstone goalkeeper Jonathan North's disgraceful attempts to dig up the penalty spot, which understandably riled the Hungerford players and supporters, Harvey Bradbury kept his composure to comfortably beat North who was perhaps lucky to only receive a yellow card for his failed antics.
Thereafter both sides huffed and puffed without really threatening to grab a winner and both teams settled for the draw that their energy and efforts deserved. The Crusaders were loudly cheered off the field by an appreciative crowd of Hungerford supporters and the attendance of 435, boosted by a loud and supportive Wealdstone contingent, had been well entertained.